Home » Latest News » E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Jun 16): Coupang Faces Penalties, OpenAI’s Revenue Surge

E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Jun 16): Coupang Faces Penalties, OpenAI’s Revenue Surge



Costco: Transforming under new leadership 

Costco is undergoing significant changes under new CEO Ron Vachris and CFO Gary Millerchip. They aim to enhance e-commerce capabilities, expanding online purchase and in-store pickup options. Previously reliant on third-party services, Costco is now improving large-item delivery and exploring new markets with Uber Technologies. Vachris stresses gradual changes to maintain core values while adapting to the evolving retail landscape. These efforts are complemented by a strategic use of data to drive business growth and member experience enhancement.

RAI Companies: Filing complaints against Chinese e-cigarette exporters  

RAI Strategic Holdings and associated companies have lodged a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against Chinese disposable vape devices and components, alleging patent infringement. The complaint seeks exclusion, cease, and desist orders against these products. This involves 42 companies registered in the U.S., China, and Canada. The action highlights ongoing concerns about patent rights and market competition in the vape industry.

Vera Bradley: Financial struggles and future outlook 

Vera Bradley’s Q1 report shows revenue down to $80.6 million and net loss widening to $8.1 million. CEO Jackie Ardrey emphasizes a ‘revival plan’ addressing brand, product, and channel challenges. Direct sales dropped 4.2%, and comparable sales fell 9.6% due to weak direct-to-consumer channels. The company forecasts annual revenue between $460 million and $480 million, with mixed growth expectations for its brands.


Shopify: Enhancing customer loyalty in challenging times  

A new Shopify report reveals that 82% of UK consumers value high-quality products and surprise promotions for loyalty. With ongoing economic challenges, 82% of UK retailers have passed on increased costs to customers, while only 6% plan significant investments in customer experience. Discretionary spending has decreased for 46% of consumers over the past year, with over half attributing rising prices to changes in brand preferences. AI technology is favorably viewed by 55% of UK consumers for easing shopping, and social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are key for product discovery.

Coupang: Facing penalties for unfair practices  

South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang has been fined 140 billion won ($102 million) by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) for manipulating search algorithms and posting fake product reviews. Since February 2019, Coupang boosted its own brands’ exposure and sales through these unfair practices. The FTC is investigating further and has ordered corrective measures. The U.S. FTC also views these practices as harmful to consumers and market competition.

Wildberries: Expanding click-and-collect service 

Wildberries, in partnership with Darkstore at Home, has launched a new ‘click-and-collect’ delivery service in Moscow. Using a DBS (delivery by seller) model, sellers store goods at Darkstore warehouses and fulfill orders upon receipt. Orders are collected and packaged within 5-7 minutes and delivered in 1-4 hours by Yandex and Dostavista. This service, tested since early 2023, will be expanded to all pick-up points. Other major Russian platforms like Ozon and Yandex Market also offer similar rapid delivery services.

Scalapay: Insights into French online consumer behavior 

With the French summer sales approaching, consumers are adjusting their spending plans amid ongoing inflation. BNPL provider Scalapay’s data from 2 million active users in France shows 53% plan to buy more during sales, and 22% will only purchase their favorite brands. Fashion is the top category at 40%, followed by cosmetics (30%), home & garden (12.4%), and health products (6.8%). Average spending amounts vary, with luxury goods at 432 euros and fashion items like clothing at 116 euros.

Amazon in India: Preferred platform for smartphone purchases 

Amazon is the leading platform for smartphone purchases in India, with 38% of consumers choosing it, according to a May 2024 survey by Counterpoint Research. Trust, product availability, and promotions are key factors influencing this preference. The survey indicates a growing importance of online retail, with 47% favoring online purchases. The Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow significantly by 2028, driven by increased internet and digital payment usage.

Back Market: On Track to Profitability

Back Market, an online marketplace for refurbished electronics, achieved a 45% revenue growth last year, reaching 320 million euros. Headquartered in Paris and Bordeaux, the company plans to turn a profit for the first time this year, coinciding with its 10th anniversary. The UK has emerged as its primary growth market, with an 80% revenue increase and a 44% market share in refurbished tech. CEO Thibaud Hug de Larauze highlights the dual benefits of profitability and environmental impact. The European recommerce market, including repair, remanufacturing, and resale, is growing rapidly and expected to hit 120 billion euros by 2025.

Zooplus: Expanding into Marketplace Model

Zooplus, a European online pet supply retailer, is transitioning towards a marketplace model to enhance its product range and customer experience. This shift will allow third-party sellers to offer their products alongside Zooplus’s existing inventory. By leveraging this model, Zooplus aims to provide a more comprehensive selection of pet products, catering to diverse customer needs and preferences. This strategic move aligns with the company’s goal to strengthen its position in the competitive pet supply market.


OpenAI: Rapid revenue growth 

OpenAI’s annual revenue has more than doubled in six months, reaching $3.4 billion. CEO Sam Altman attributes this growth to subscriptions for ChatGPT and developer integrations. Most revenue comes from ChatGPT’s paid version, with additional income from AI model access through Microsoft Azure. Despite criticism over prioritizing profit, OpenAI continues to expand its offerings and partnerships, solidifying its position as a leading AI startup.

Meta: Continued downsizing amid strategic shifts 

Meta Platforms plans further layoffs, reducing vice president positions from 300 to 250. This follows previous layoffs aimed at streamlining operations post-pandemic. CEO Mark Zuckerberg focuses on simplifying management and investing in AI and other tools. Meta’s AI and metaverse development arm, Reality Labs, will see increased capital expenditure, reflecting the company’s commitment to technological advancement.

Reinforcement Learning Enhances Urban Maneuverability for Wheeled Robots

A recent study highlights the application of reinforcement learning in improving the urban maneuverability of wheeled robots. This technology enables robots to navigate complex urban environments more efficiently by learning from their interactions with the surroundings. The study demonstrates that reinforcement learning can significantly enhance the robots’ ability to handle dynamic and unpredictable urban scenarios, paving the way for advanced autonomous systems in various urban applications.

Musk Drops OpenAI Lawsuit Days Before Dismissal Hearing

Elon Musk has withdrawn his lawsuit against OpenAI just days before the scheduled dismissal hearing. The lawsuit, which revolved around issues of intellectual property and competition, had garnered significant attention in the AI community. Musk’s decision to drop the case may indicate a shift in strategy or a potential resolution outside the courtroom. This development is noteworthy in the ongoing discourse on responsible AI practices and the competitive dynamics within the AI industry.

Pope Francis Urges Ethical Use of AI at G7 Summit

During the recent G7 Summit, Pope Francis called for the ethical use of artificial intelligence, emphasizing the need for technologies that prioritize human dignity and the common good. The Pope’s address highlighted the moral and ethical responsibilities of nations in regulating AI to prevent misuse and ensure it benefits all of humanity. His message resonated with global leaders, urging them to consider the broader implications of AI advancements on society and the environment.

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